Louise John shares her thoughts on why ITIL doesn’t require lots of people and how businesses of all shapes and sizes can use the framework effectively.
Does ITIL require a lot of people to work effectively and do you need to have one individual for every role, process or function?
No, but this misconception can exist because - initially - ITIL® can appear overwhelming and people think they need a big team to make it work. Equally, people may have ploughed on with ITIL without staging or managing its adoption and, unsurprisingly, have had a negative experience in the past.
However, when taking the time to consult the ITIL guidance it’s clear organizations of any size can use the framework.
ITIL: why adopt and adapt?
ITIL is designed to be adopted and adapted. It is a best practice framework and that means you don’t need to use of it and certainly not all at once. What’s more, not every element will fit with your business; there’s no need to put a round peg in a square hole.
Many of the roles within ITIL are also likely to be things that organizations are already doing and ITIL is about bringing together what you are already doing and making it better. As organizations see when reviewing ITIL, many of these roles can also be combined. In fact, I regularly switch between different ITIL roles: in the morning I could be part of change management process as a practitioner attending a CAB and in the afternoon I’ll be involved in incident management and process compliance as the process owner. And in between that I’m a service user!
Is there a minimum number of people needed for ITIL?
I don’t think there’s a minimum number of people needed for ITIL to work effectively within a business. But what you do need as a minimum is senior management buy-in. To get that buy-in, IT professionals need to communicate the business benefits clearly and in a way that will show the tangible, positive changes it’ll bring to the organization. You need to show how ITIL will help with the pain points.
Maybe your organization currently has five people trying to deliver the fundamental day-to-day activities and, metaphorically speaking, trying to keep the lights on. Therefore, you need to show how letting one and a half of those people focus on improvements and adopt best practice like ITIL, will eventually reduce the need for all five people and their time can be used to add value elsewhere.
There are lots of case studies on the AXELOS website that show how ITIL has helped businesses improve their service and increased their value to customers that are very persuasive.
How to adopt ITIL effectively with the people available:
There are three things I’d recommend that organizations focus on when adopting ITIL:
- Adopt and adapt: or as I sometimes say, find flexibility in the framework. Businesses should start with what they’ve got and where they are. Ultimately, most roles are likely to be covered by the majority already and in fact, it’s not necessarily the role that are the important thing: it is delivering value to customers but having defined roles is just one way we can organize ourselves to ensure this happens
- Play to people’s strengths: if someone is a good practitioner but you can see potential that they would make a great process manager too, give them the tools such as training and education to adapt their role. But don’t just give them the textbook; take the time to explain how it works in a practical way in your organization and how they may already be doing parts of the role
- Don’t be afraid to fail: it’s important to try new ideas and ways of doing things. Can you empower a colleague with extra responsibility or could they combine roles? It’s important to give people the space to innovate and find out what works best for your organization to, ultimately, deliver value to your customers.
See our ITIL Practitioner section for more information.
More blogs in our ITIL Misconceptions series
ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL doesn’t require any formal training, it is just common sense or a tool that will fix it all.”
ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL is incompatible with other practices.”
ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL is only for big organizations.”
ITIL® Misconceptions: "ITIL is for infrastructure or production only."
ITIL® Misconceptions: “ITIL is a standard to adhere to”
5 popular misconceptions about ITIL®: ‘ITIL is a standard’, and other folk stories
ITIL® Misconceptions: "You don’t need to worry about culture when adopting the ITIL framework."